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What It Means to Be a Woman in 2018: YolanDa Brown

To celebrate 100 years of Suffrage in the UK, we’re asking a host of women of note to answer our Q&A

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Double MOBO award winning saxophonist YolanDa Brown answers our ‘what it means to be a woman in 2018’ Q&A, to mark 100 years of suffrage. The Representation of the People Act 1918 was passed on 6 February 1918.

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YolanDa Brown Q&A

It’s been 100 years since (some) women were granted the right to vote in the UK – how far do you think women have come in the last century?

We’ve come very far, but of course there’s still a bit to go. At the moment there’s a wave of empowerment and it’s great to be a part of it.

What does it mean to be a woman in 2018?

I feel that I can be myself. The interesting thing is, I was brought up to be driven and to go for my dreams and I can’t imagine feeling that way and being faced with barriers because I’m a woman. I think it’s nice know that you can have dreams and go out and do it. It’s an exciting time for women, being able to make waves. But it will also be nice to be celebrated as a human being for doing what you love, rather than to be labelled as a ‘female saxophonist’ all the time.

What do women still need to achieve?

I think the most important thing is to be able to work together as women. The collaboration between women is still not an easy thing to do. As women we can be too quick to judge each other sometimes. In every movement there are people waiting for it to fail, but by supporting and empowering each other we can move forward. Strong women need to be able to work together!

Your personal proudest achievement?

Musically, it would be the accolades and awards, being invited to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen… any time my work is being recognized is a great moment for me.

As a woman, it would be becoming a mum! It’s the most empowering thing I’ve ever felt, it made me feel that anything is possible!

If you could teach young women one thing about being a woman, it would be…

Know your value. No matter how far we go, we still have the history behind us. It’s important for young people to know their worth, and as women I think we can be exploited sometimes without even knowing it. You should cherish yourself and control your own narrative.

And if you could teach young men one thing…

I think it’s similar. We’re coming to a time where there’s a culture of social media, selfies, and posting your life on Instagram. Some of these people will grow up and might want to be the next Prime Minister you know, and you’ll have all these photos and videos on social media that you might not want the world to see. It’s important to think about the future and how your actions now could affect it.

Complete the following:

In the next 100 years, I hope women will… Achieve a level of equality. We’re so caught up, and it’s the same with race, about labels. One day ‘female racing drivers’ will just be ‘racing drivers’. Things like men’s sport and women’s sport will have equal amounts of money and then people can just enjoy the talent. At the moment we’re just labelling things first and then appreciating them. Let’s hope we can just celebrate each other and we won’t need things like Women’s Month anymore because we’ll all be equal.

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